Foreigners using UNHCR programme to be ‘ghosts’ here, deputy home minister says

File picture shows refugees, many of whom claiming to be Rohingya, waiting for access to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Picture released August 12, 2015. ― Reuters pic
File picture shows refugees, many of whom claiming to be Rohingya, waiting for access to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Picture released August 12, 2015. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Malaysia is aiming to prevent foreigners from misusing the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee system to turn “ghosts” in this country, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said today.

The deputy home minister said many migrants and refugees were found throwing away identifications from their countries of origin, and then registering using the United Nations (UN) system to remain in Malaysia for a lengthy period of time.

“We don’t want to have ‘ghosts’ in our system. This system can be open to abuse. That’s why we need to close the loophole in the UNHCR system.

“A lot of these migrants come here and throw away their identification and sign up for the UN programme and stay here for a long time. This is not right,” Nur Jazlan told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

The Pulai MP was responding to claims made by several Asean lawmakers that Malaysia cared more about documenting migrants rather than providing them with adequate human rights.

The group, Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, urged all Southeast Asian governments to adopt a binding regional treaty on migrant workers, aimed at protecting workers and their rights.

Nur Jazlan responded that the UN programme only addresses relocation programme for a small number of refugees, and many of the migrants, refugees and even human trafficking victims remain unaddressed.

He added that the local biometric identification system will be able to document all of them by giving them a “digital ID” where the refugees can be tracked and differentiated from the migrants or those trying to falsify their documents.

Philippine congresswoman Emmi de Jesus had told Putrajaya it should be more responsible in caring for the basic amenities needed by these foreigners to survive here in Malaysia.

“Their programme of biometric registering is just a matter of procedural documentation. But, the challenge still is for them to realise that something must be done to migrant workers with regard to giving them protection, service and recognising contribution to local development,” de Jesus said in a press conference yesterday, referring to Putrajaya.

Nur Jazlan previously said that UNHCR has refused to share its database of refugees with Putrajaya. He also said based on records, there are around 150,000 to 160,000 of them in the country.

Several months ago there were also news reports of how UNHCR cards were being sold illegally to migrants who want to resettle as refugees in the country.